Ulaanbaatar or Ulan Bator is the capital of Mongolia. In 1998 its population was estimated at 650,000. It is situated north and slightly east of the center of Mongolia, on the Tuul River, in a valley at the foot of the mountain Bogdo Uul.
Founded in 1649 as a monastery town named Urga, it prospered in the 1860s as a commercial center on the tea route between Russia and China. Mongolia first proclaimed its autonomy in 1911, and when the city became the capital of the new Mongolian republic in 1924, its name was changed to Ulaanbaatar ("red hero" in the Mongolian language), in honor of Mongolia's national hero Sukhbaatar, who liberated Mongolia from Chinese rule and called in the Soviet Red Army. His statue still adorns Ulaanbaatar's central square.
Ulaanbaatar has an international airport, Buyant Ukha Airport and is connected by highway to all the major towns in Mongolia and by rail to the Trans-Siberian Railroad and Chinese railroad systems. The city has the only university in the country. A historical library contains a wealth of ancient Mongolian, Chinese, and Tibetan manuscripts.